Caring for a Pet Canary

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Caring for a Pet Canary

Post  forumtester on Fri Mar 23, 2018 3:26 pm

When selecting a pet canary choose a young healthy bird which is bright, alert and bouncy, not one that sits perched with ruffled up feathers. It is only the male that sings; the female will ‘tweet tweet’ or whistle only.

Get the largest cage possible, that allows for room for flight. A pet canary should never have its wings clipped and should be able to fly in the cage for exercise. ‘Flight’ type cages are the best (home-built or commercial) since they are designed to provide room to move. Remember that a long cage is better than a tall narrow one (the height is not all that important). Try to get a cage at least 24 inches long. Watch the spacing between bars – no more than 1/2 inch. Wire cages are best; wood or bamboo cages are too difficult to keep clean. Perches should be well spaced and placed at different heights if possible. They should be of softwood, round of 12-16mm diameter or square with the corners rounded off, and of different sizes so the birds feet are not always in the same position. Place seed and water containers where they will not be fouled by the pet canary’s droppings.

Provide toys, but place them in the cage in such a way as they do not obstruct flight space. A pet canary will enjoy swings, mirrors, bells, and hanging wooden or acrylic toys.

A pet canary must be kept in fresh atmosphere as it is particularly sensitive to foul or polluted air. Inside, you must select a site well away from any gas appliances. The cage must not hang in draught for fear the canary will catch a chill. Direct sunlight is yet another thing to be avoided, especially in the summer. While canaries love sunlight they do not appreciate being left in direct or in a room which is too hot. High temperatures could quite easily force your pet canary in to a false moult in order to maintain an even body temperature, your bird will then shed some of his feathers and will more than likely stop singing. Located outside under the eaves and against the wall could prove to be a suitable place, but only after you have made sure the canary will be safe from stray cats, wild birds and inclement weather. Stray cats can, and often do cause death to caged canaries; also wild birds are quite capable of removing a pet canary without leaving a trace of their visit. Unless your cage is situated in an easterly or north-easterly direction the weather can easily bring harm. If your bird is to be permanently kept outside, a wooden box type cage is most suitable.

Keep the cage spotlessly clean at all times. Wash the food and drink utensils regularly. Disinfect the cage at least every 2 months. Perches should never be washed unless there is another set to take their place. Wet perches cause canaries discomfort. If you have just one set of perches it would be far wiser to take them out and scrape them clean with a sharp knife or similar implement. You may sandpaper the perches but be sure they are not left too smooth , as the smoother the perches the harder the bird has to grip to keep his balance. Wood perches of varied diameter work best (3/8 to 3/4 inches). Do not use sandpaper perch covers. The drinking tube is most effectively cleaned using a small bottle brush. Use brown or clear white paper to cover the floor of the cage. Do not use newspaper as it can be most harmful since there is a risk of the print coming off. When this happens the ink tends to take the moisture out of the canary’s toes and legs.

Buy a good fresh seed mix from a pet shop. A good seed mix will help provide a balanced diet. Blow of the husks daily and change the seed in the dish regularly. Cuttlefish bone provides extra vitamins, and is good for the bird’s beak.

Fresh water must be available at all times. The plastic tube feeder is very convenient but must be kept clean at all times. Give your pet canary a separate suitable dish containing water for a bath about three times a week.

Once a year your pet canary will, under normal conditions, shed all its feathers for a complete new set. It will commence his moult sometime during the late Summer or early Autumn, and will usually take as many as ten weeks to complete the change. During the time the moult is taking place the canary might cease to sing. The annual moult is a natural thing for a bird, but there are several ways you can assist it through this period. You must keep your pet canary out of the sunlight as much as possible, cover it up at night much earlier than you normally would and allow it to get as much rest through the day as it needs by not disturbing it unnecessarily. Feed your pet canary oily seeds such as sunflower, rape and linseed. Give it the opportunity to bathe more often. If you look after your pet canary during the moult you will be well rewarded when it again begins to whistle….. complete with its new set of feathers.

A single pet canary is unlikely to suffer many health problems as most issues are caused by interaction with unhealthy birds. The most common warning signs of potential issues are:

Excessive preening – this could indicate mites, treatable with medication from the vet if diagnosed early enough,
Diarrhoea – the simplest solution being binders such as banana or cheese, or antibiotics from the vet if recurring,
“Runny” beaks – colds are common. Heat and rest usually solve these and if recurring, again this can be medicated by a vet.


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